Valentina P. Wasson, The Chosen Baby, 1939

The Chosen Baby was illustrated by Hildegard Woodward

Source: Valentina P. Wasson, The Chosen Baby (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1939).

“Let us adopt a baby and bring him up as our own.”

Source: Valentina P. Wasson, The Chosen Baby (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1939).

A “Lady from the Home came and looked over the house were the Man and his Wife lived to make sure that the Chosen Baby would live in a light, clean home.”

Source: Valentina P. Wasson, The Chosen Baby (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1939).

“This is our Chosen Baby. We don’t have to look any further.”

Source: Valentina P. Wasson, The Chosen Baby (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1939).

“All of Peter’s new uncles and aunts, and his grandfather and grandmother came to see him, and they thought he was a lovely baby.”

This children’s story was introduced by Sophie van Senden Theis, who made a connection between telling and reading that remains with us to this day. She noted that “The Chosen Baby is intended for parents of young children, who wish to make the first explanation of adoption as happy as it is true. I suggest that this little book be used by parents to supplement their own explanation to their children of the facts of adoption.”

The story illustrates both continuity and change in the history of adoption. It emphasized that adoptees were special because they were selected, an enduring theme in adoption literature. Yet it also described practices—such as allowing adoptive parents to make specific choices from among a number of waiting children—that fell out of favor in later years.

Once upon a time in a large city lived a Man and his Wife. They were happily married for many years. Their one trouble was that they had no babies of their own.

One day they said to each other: “Let us adopt a baby and bring him up as our own.” So the next day they called up a Home which helps people to adopt babies, and babies to adopt parents, and said: “We wish so much to find a baby who would like to have a mother and father and who could be our own. Will you help us find one?”

The Lady at the Home said: “This will be difficult because so many people wish to adopt babies and are waiting for them, but come and see me anyhow.”

So the Man and his Wife went to the Home and said to the Lady: “We wish so much to choose a baby. We want to have a lovely, healthy baby boy.” The Lady at the Home asked them many questions and said: “I will try very hard to find a lovely baby boy, but you must wait for a long time.”

A little later another Lady from the Home came and looked over the house were the Man and his Wife lived to make sure that the Chosen Baby would live in a light, clean home.

Many months went by and the Man and his Wife would say to each other: “I wonder when our baby will be coming.” And the Wife would call up the Lady at the Home and say: “We are still waiting for our baby. Please don’t forget about us.” And she would be told not to worry, for the baby was sure to come some day.

Then suddenly one day the Lady at the Home called up and said: “We have three fine babies for you to choose from. Will you both come and see them?” So the very next day the Man and his Wife, feeling very excited, hurried to the Home. The Lady told them all about the babies.

The first baby was a little boy with blue eyes and curly blond hair. He laughed and played with a rattle. The Man and his Wife watched the baby, then they shook their heads and said: “This is a beautiful child, but we know it is not our baby.” And they were taken to see the next.

And there asleep in the crib lay a lovely, rosy, fat baby boy. He opened is big brown eyes and smiled. The Wife picked him up and sat him on her lap. The baby gurgled, and the Man and his Wife said: “This is our Chosen Baby. We don’t have to look any further. We will have everything ready for him by to-morrow, and would like to take him home then.”

So that day the Wife went to a shop and bought a crib and a carriage and bottles, and all the clothes and things that babies need.

And the very next morning the Wife went to fetch the baby, and brought the baby home and put him in his crib, and fed him milk and cereal and orange juice. A nice, fat Nannie helped to look after the baby.

“We must find a good name for our baby,” the Man and his Wife said to each other. So they decided to call his name Peter, after his uncle. After a few days all of Peter’s new uncles and aunts, and his grandfather and grandmother came to see him, and they thought he was a lovely baby. . . .

 

Source: Valentine P. Wasson, The Chosen Baby (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1939).

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To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3118
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
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© Ellen Herman